House revives bill striking defense for medical pot

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota House Republican lawmakers on Thursday revived a bill to rid the state’s medical marijuana law of a provision that allows patients with debilitating medical conditions to avoid criminal charges for pot possession if they have not obtained a marijuana identification card.

The bill, which has already passed the Senate, was dismissed Wednesday by a House committee. But the bill was resurrected Thursday with support from one-third of the House in a maneuver called a “smokeout.” It would still need support from at least half the House to get a vote in the chamber.

The bill is one among dozens of changes lawmakers are considering to the state’s medical marijuana law, which voters passed in 2020. Organizations and businesses supporting medical pot argued that people who need medical marijuana are still struggling to get recommendations from physicians and ID cards issued by the Department of Health.

“You are effectively criminalizing patients that have not yet had the chance to find a legal avenue for access,” Liz Tiger, a medical pot patient, told the House Judiciary committee Wednesday.

The bill’s proponents say that people have had time to get the ID cards and the provision has hamstrung enforcement of recreational pot possession laws.